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Public Engagement Programs

American Lectures in the History of Religions

Founded in 1891 to encourage path-breaking scholarship through a lecture and book series, the American Lectures in the History of Religions (ALHR) flourished under the auspices of the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) and Columbia University from 1936. At the request of the ACLS, the American Academy of Religion assumed administrative responsibility for the series in 1994. Learn more about the lecture series.

Public Scholars Project

The Public Scholars Project is a joint initiative of the American Academy of Religion's Committee on the Public Understanding of Religion and the Religious Freedom Center of the Freedom Forum. Through seminars, webinars, and other resources, the Public Scholars Project equips scholars of religion to effectively communicate in the public sphere and foster religious literacy. Learn more about the Public Scholars Project.

Religious Literacy Guidelines for College Graduates

In 2019, the AAR published guidelines outlining what every undergraduate student should know about religion. The guidelines were adopted by the AAR Board of Directors after three years of discussion and edits by a committee and advisory board. Diane L. Moore, Director of the Religious Literacy Project at Harvard Divinity School, and Eugene V. Gallagher, Rosemary Park Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies at Connecticut College, led the effort, which was funded by a grant from the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations.

The guidelines argue that some critical understanding about the ways in which religion shapes and is shaped by human behavior should be part of the general education of every person who receives an undergraduate degree. Designed to aid both faculty and administrators, the guidelines include suggested outcomes, frequently asked questions, and an outline of common approaches to teaching and learning about religion on college campuses, along with examples.

Teaching about Religion in K–12 Public Schools

The AAR has developed Guidelines for Teaching about Religions in K–12 Public Schools. The document discusses why teaching about religion is important, the distinction between a devotional approach and a non-devotional religious studies approach appropriate for public schools, how to teach about religion with a variety of approaches and pedagogical strategies, and the content and skill competencies required for teachers to teach about religion in intellectually sound ways.